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Community Affairs References Committee
Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings
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Community Affairs References Committee
Moore, Sen Claire
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Community Affairs References Committee
(Senate-Friday, 28 August 2015)
CHAIR (Senator Siewert)
Det. Insp. Peters
Det. Supt Wieszyk
- Ms McGough
Content WindowCommunity Affairs References Committee - 28/08/2015 - Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings
VINCENT, Ms Kelly Leah, MLC, Dignity for Disability, South Australian Parliament
CHAIR: Welcome. Thank you for making the time to come to the committee.
Ms Vincent : Thank you for inviting me.
CHAIR: I am presuming you have been given evidence on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence.
Ms Vincent : I have some familiarity with the process, but I appreciate that you have your obligations.
CHAIR: I invite you to make an opening statement.
Ms Vincent : I understand that it is quite unusual for a committee such as this to hear evidence from an incumbent member, and I would like to thank you for this important opportunity. I have been in my current role for five years now, since my appointment to the parliament. In that time, the Disability Justice Plan is probably the most ambitious project that my party has taken on. I would like to share with you a bit about that plan, how it came about and its effect.
In 2010, my office was made aware of the alleged sexual abuse of seven children with disabilities, apparently perpetrated by their school bus driver. Because the disabilities that these children have have impact to varying degrees on factors such as verbal communication, cognitive function and memory, they were not permitted to give evidence in a court. I hasten to add at this point that there are, sadly, many other cases I could use as examples, but, because the school bus case has gained a significant amount of media attention over the years, I think it is a case that illustrates well the challenges that many people with disabilities face in this area. The inability to share their stories and, in so doing, find some sense of closure and justice was causing the families of these young people much stress, in addition, of course, to the anguish that the effects of the alleged abuse had already caused these children and their families.
In addition to being motivated by a sense of inequality and wanting to address that, it occurred to me that perhaps at least one of the reasons that people with disabilities are statistically so much more likely to experience abuse and violence in our lifetimes—in fact, Women With Disabilities Australia estimates that as many as 90 per cent of women with intellectual disability in particular will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes—is that the justice system has been set up in a way that means it is inaccessible to many of us and, therefore, we will have fewer avenues to talk about what happens to us if we are abused. Therefore, Dignity for Disability began to investigate the potential for social and legislative change in this area. After much consultation and lobbying—and it sounds like you have already heard about some of that—the result is what we now know as the Disability Justice Plan, the legislative aspects of which passed parliament just recently in the form of the Statutes Amendment (Vulnerable Witnesses) Bill 2015.
As I said, the young people involved in this particular case have disabilities that can affect their ability to communicate verbally. Despite the fact that we have long allowed interpreters to participate in the judicial process where a witness needs to give evidence in a spoken language other than English, such supports have not been historically available for people whose native language may in fact be English but who do not necessarily speak it to communicate or may speak a few words and phrases as well as using some other communication methods, such as sign or a communication board or picture board, for example. As an example, I understand that one of the young men involved in this particular case came into his classroom one day, got the attention of his teacher, pulled down his pants, pointed to his genitalia and stated the bus driver's name, followed by the word 'ouch'. Of course, this does not mean that the bus driver was in fact guilty of causing this child or any other child any harm, but I think we can probably agree that it is a situation that would raise concern and should warrant further investigation.
I will now turn to discussing the key changes made by the passing of this new legislation. Such a situation as the one I have just mentioned has been addressed in the vulnerable witnesses bill by allowing the use of hearsay evidence in a court in some cases—for example, a teacher, parent or care-giver reporting what a child has disclosed to them, such as in this situation. This could only obviously be used in very restricted circumstances where a witness is not able to adequately disclose something themselves to the point at which it is worth investigating the experience or the observations of others around them. This new section, namely section 34LA of the Evidence Act, will apply only when the person making a hearsay statement is not due to be called on as a formal witness in the relevant case; the hearsay statement that was made outside of court by the alleged victim of sexual violence is, for example, someone who at the time the statement was made was a young child of or under the age of 14 years or a person with a relevant disability.
The bill also importantly redefines or clarifies what constitutes a vulnerable witness to include someone with a cognitive impairment. The bill also redefines a young child from the previous definition of a child of or under the age of 12 years to a child of or under the age of 14 years in response to concerns raised that the present age of 12 years does not necessarily take into account the stress many young people experience in adolescence and how these stressors may impact both their reactions to violence that they have experienced in the past and their behaviour in a judicial setting.
Giving people who use limited English augmentative and alternative communication methods thus, obviously, became a key point in Dignity for Disability’s lobbying for the Disability Justice Plan. This issue has been addressed by enshrining in law, through an amendment to the Evidence Act, the right of a participant with a disability to be assisted to give evidence in a court, with the support of a communication assistant—sometimes also called a 'communication partner'—where required. The concept in this bill has been modelled on the communication assistants program in the United Kingdom and allows for a court participant with complex communication needs to be assisted by a communication partner, who will aid the person in the giving of their evidence by facilitating conversation and relaying the person’s experience. In the UK, this person is a trained professional and usually, as I understand it, a speech pathologist, who may undergo some additional training to become a communication assistant. It is envisaged that, under the South Australian legislation, a communication partner will be a volunteer who is part of a specialist scheme, who will be trained in objectively and accurately facilitating communication in court. However, the bill also allows for any other person deemed suitable to be appointed as a communication assistant by a court. The bill makes it plain that acting as such a communication assistant does not preclude the communication assistant from giving evidence in a court in their own right. This may be necessary as the person deemed most appropriate to assist a person with disability in giving evidence may also be closely associated with that person who is involved as an alleged victim, for example, in a court. Therefore, they may have their own evidence which they wish to relay. As with existing language interpreters, any communication assistant will be required to swear that their work in this role will be objective and accurate.
The South Australian bill also seeks to assist witnesses who may have trouble with literacy and/or memory by introducing the concept of Ground Rules Hearings to set out how a case will be conducted. For example, this might eliminate the use of convoluted or confusing questioning or allow the use of only certain types of questioning so as to give a witness the best opportunity to fully comprehend proceedings and to respond to questions. I understand that this measure is already working quite successfully in the United Kingdom. The South Australian bill further clarifies the definition of an inappropriate question under the amended section 25 of the Evidence Act to include 'questions that are expressed in language that is too complicated for the witness to understand'.
The bill also extends the priority listing of trials where a witness's disability may affect memory, so that the trial must take place within three months of the original arraignment to give the witness the best chance to remember all the details they wish to relay.
The bill allows also for the availability of a pre-trial special hearing in cases involving sexual or otherwise violent offences where the witnesses are young children aged 14 or under, or where the person's disability might affect their ability to give a comprehensive account of events. The bill allows for audiovisual evidence to be admissible in court, such as an audiovisual recording of investigative interview where the participants are, again, children aged 14 or under, or have a disability which impacts on their ability to give evidence in a court setting.
The bill also allows for pre-trial taking of evidence and cross-examination, including re-examination, in informal surroundings for, again, children and young people, or people whose disability may mean that they are not comfortable giving, or best able to give, evidence in a court setting. The bill also takes measures to put in place greater emotional support for vulnerable witnesses, both in and outside court, by clarifying eligibility for and increasing access to supports such as allowing a person to take on the specific role of providing emotional support to a witness during an interview, for example.
While this new legislation has been enacted only recently and so it is difficult at this point to measure its real-world effect, because it has been based on comprehensive consultation with the disability community and intense research on interstate and international models I remain confident that it will have a big impact on closing many of the gaps that have existed for a long time in the justice system for people with disabilities and I feel very proud to have been part of this important process.
South Australia has in fact been recognised by the Human Rights Commission as a leader in the field of equal access to the justice system for people with disabilities, in its report entitled Equality before the law. We certainly believe that measures such as those I have mentioned must be implemented on a national level, as, unfortunately, people with disabilities are systematically targeted nationwide. However, I feel that at this point it is important to say that legislation alone will not make all the difference and there remain significant social barriers to overcome and end violence against people with disabilities.
I remain very concerned, for example, about the lack of accessible information about personal safety, including in sexual and romantic relationships, for people with disabilities. Anecdotally, through my professional work and based on my personal experience, it seems to me that people with disabilities are often infantilised and therefore denied access to information and experiences about things such as personal safety in relationships and sex that many of our peers take for granted. I greatly believe in the need for accessible supports and information about these topics for this reason.
As an example, it appears that many students with disabilities miss out on sex education in school for various reasons, including but not limited to the fact that it is often a component of the physical education curriculum in which many students with physical disabilities, for example, might not participate.
There is also a concerning lack of information about personal safety, relationships and sexuality for people with cognitive impairment and/or low literacy or for people who may not know much about these topics for other reasons, such as their cultural background. What information is available on the subject often seems to assume a certain level of prior knowledge, which is not true of everyone. Some organisations are doing good work in closing these gaps but there is certainly more to be done.
I am aware of one situation, a few years ago, where a support service facilitating a shared home, of which the residents were people with intellectual disabilities, had a sexual-health service come to present to the residents about these topics. The residents were shown, as part of this presentation, how to put on a condom—by putting a condom onto the end of a broomstick. A few days later a support worker, working in the home, went into a resident's bedroom to assist them with personal care. They found two of the residents in bed together, with two broomsticks—one broomstick at each side of the bed with a condom on each one. The support service had, I believe, done the right thing by trying to respect the needs and autonomy of the residents and their clients. However, the information provided to them did not take into account the fact that different people learn differently.
There is a false idea that by infantilising people with disabilities and not teaching us these life skills we are being kept safe. From my observations, however, both personal and professional, the opposite is true. Nothing about not having the information will take away our desire to enter into these relationships. Therefore, we often enter into them not knowing how best to negotiate our safety—because of the denial of education in this area.
It also appears that often in the case of people with disabilities what would otherwise be recognised, quite clearly, as abuse is believed to be a natural part of the support provision. This is either because the person receiving the support knows no different or because they believe the only two options available to them are to put up with the abuse or receive no support at all. Therefore, there is a need to continue to take any possible measure to allow people with disabilities greater choice and control over who provides their support. This is to tackle the isolation that can lead them to be susceptible to abuse and to provide more readily available and accessible information about rights and responsibilities surrounding personal-safety issues, such as what a healthy supporting relationship looks like, whether professional or personal.
There is also a significant need to consider and improve the accessibility of services to support people leaving violent situations. If, for example, the women's shelter at my local area were not accessible to me as a wheelchair user because of steps at the entrance or a lack of handrails in the bathroom it would be very difficult or impossible for me to stay there overnight. Therefore, my options to leave the situation are, again, restricted. As another example, if a deaf person whose primary language is Australian sign language or Auslan looks to make a call by telephone, to a support service, using the National Relay Service only to be hung up on because the person at the other end does not understand how to interact with the NRS or does not know how to provide the person with an interpreter, there are obvious issues.
The need for increased accessibility of things like public transport is another matter to consider, which may not seem immediately obvious. This could be important, for example, where a person with a disability is unable to drive a car because of their disability and usually relies on the abuser for assistance with transport. If public transport is inaccessible to them they could have no other option to leave the situation.
Another issue that has been raised by family carers, advocates and people with disabilities as well as other concerned citizens in phone calls to my office—as recently as this afternoon—relates to the health-care system and how, in many subtle or not so subtle ways, it discriminates against people with disabilities and results in neglect. In some cases it results in abuse—being mindful that neglect is a form of abuse. We have had this raised time and time again. I was reminded of it today with the calls to my office, today, regarding such a situation. I will relay the situation to you.
This person had a friend with significant disability who was recently in hospital. The person with a disability was in bed and their friend was in the room, also, with a doctor. The doctor said, over the top of the patient to the friend, 'Do you really think he should be alive?' This man had a significant physical disability and had been sick with pneumonia, but the doctor had decided to make a judgement call about the value of his relatively young life and whether he was worthy of medical treatment.
The doctor did not seem to realise that this man, while he was ill and had physical disability, had no hearing impairment and had full intellectual functioning, and he understood—completely—that the doctor was suggesting he was not worthy of medical treatment and not worthy of being kept alive. Not that this occurrence would have been any better if the patient had been deaf or had not had the disability, but I am sure you see my point: where is the respect and consideration for the patient's wishes or the understanding that the doctor's job is to get on with the job of providing medical treatment rather than making a judgement call on the value of a patient's life? That is for the patient to define.
If they were deaf and communicated through Auslan, for example, or had an intellectual disability or other cognitive impairment, what attempts would have been made to communicate with the person and understand their personal needs and wishes? The assumptions made by some in the medical profession—as well as by those in other professions—about the lives of people with disabilities are quite extraordinary and horrifying. This is just one example, but I hear it time and time again—about children and young people with a disability as well as adults. It is an ignorance some in our medical and health-care systems have about people with disabilities, which can have severe impacts on our quality of life.
Another issue I would like to mention, very briefly—and I believe your previous speaker raised it—is the issue of economic empowerment of people with disabilities. We know that statistically 45 per cent of people with a disability in modern-day Australia live at or below the poverty line. This can have a significant impact on our ability to leave an abusive relationship, particularly where the abuser may be the main financial provider to the household. Therefore, there is a significant need to consider things that may not be immediately obvious, such as the public-transport issue I mentioned, but also measures to make the mainstream workforce accessible to people with disabilities.
There is an ignorance that employing people with disabilities will be more expensive than employing someone without a disability or that we will be less productive. In fact, statistically, we are shown to take fewer sick days and be more loyal employees than our counterparts without disabilities. This is probably because, due to the significant barrier, it takes us so much longer to get a job, so we hang around once we do. I believe there should be scope for this committee to consider the future of Australian Disability Enterprises, otherwise known as sheltered workshops, because while the workforce and other areas of society remain segregated this will cause problems, resulting in abuse and neglect. I think there is a long-held and, I believe, outdated belief that by having people with disability work in sheltered or specialised areas they are being kept safe. Perhaps people are worried about stigma in the workforce if people have a disability. Unfortunately it is my observation that having things segregated makes it easier for perpetrators to find the right places to target if they want to find a victim who, they believe, will have less avenues for recourse.
In closing, I would strongly argue that in reality any measure that seeks to make society as a whole more welcoming, respectful and accessible to people with disability is in itself a measure to tackle and prevent abuse against us. It helps to close the many social, economic and political disenfranchisements which can lead us to become more susceptible to abuse.
CHAIR: Thank you for your very comprehensive statement.
Senator MOORE: I wish we had more time as there are so many things there. In picking up on your last point about ADEs, we do not have a lot of time to talk about that at the moment, but this committee does have a very clear interest in that area and it may be a stimulant for us to come back and do some more work in that space.
Ms Vincent : I appreciate that there is other work happening in that area as well. It was an issue that I thought was worth raising.
Senator MOORE: We hope so.
CHAIR: I think you heard us have that reaction to the conversation.
Ms Vincent : Yes, after Mr Williams's presentation.
Senator MOORE: Ms Vincent, there are a number of things we would like to discuss with you, but I thought we should start with the legislation, as you started with that in your contribution as well. We have had the Attorney's department here and also the police this afternoon. One of the things that they were keen to talk about, particularly from the Attorney, was the consultation mechanism that they had used. In fact I should not use the word 'consultation' because it is much more. They actually talked about a genuine engagement. It would be useful to have your comments about the processes that the department and the parliament have put in place around this legislation and your expectations on how that will continue.
Ms Vincent : Certainly. I would say that Dignity for Disability worked very constructively alongside the government and the Attorney-General's Department on this project. Of course we did have our disagreements, both public and private, but I believe they were healthy and they ultimately led to a different and more comprehensive plan. Dignity for Disability was strongly forthcoming with the government about their need to be continually updating, particularly the disability community, about the progress of the plan when it was still being designed. I am sure you have the impression from your hearings thus far that the disability community is somewhat consulted to death and is looking now for action and has a tendency to, I think, understandably worry when we do not hear things. So we are very clear about the need to keep people regularly updated through email, social media and so on, even if there is not much to report just let people know it is still on the agenda. I also in terms of parliamentary work established a select committee to inquire into access for the experience of people with disability accessing the justice system. The government was very good in using those submissions in the forming of the plan, so it was very consultative both from our party and the government and across the parliament.
Senator MOORE: Then they referred to that committee.
Ms Vincent : Yes. I was very adamant to use any measure I had available to me to gather those lived experiences because they are often forgotten in the bureaucracy. It occurred to me—as I am sure you would be familiar—that a select committee was a good way of doing that both because they are multipartisan and because anyone with an interest is welcome to make a submission. Even though at times the Attorney did like to suggest that the committee was a red herring and was in fact delaying the process he did ultimately use those submissions to inform the plan. So it was certainly very collaborative and something that I hope to see more government departments take up.
I also hasten to add that it was also, I think, very much influenced by the fact that there were a number of people within the Attorney-General's Department itself, from whom I am sure you have heard, who were personally very passionate about this issue and who are reading up about case studies and interstate and overseas models in their own time. I think all of those factors have led to a very comprehensive project.
Senator MOORE: We also talked with the Attorney's department about the fact that they are a leader in this process. I was trying to find out how much interest was being expressed by other jurisdictions in what was happening here. They were very much aware that other jurisdictions, both in Australia and internationally, are watching what is happening with this. From your experience are you aware of that and, hopefully, about where it will go?
Ms Vincent : Absolutely, yes. As I said in my preamble, South Australia has been recognised by the Human Rights Commission in their report on a national level. Certainly I know that organisations such as People with Disability Australia as well as individual disability right advocates have been very vocal in pushing for a national approach. I think, unfortunately,—as I am sure you have gathered from the evidence you have heard—it would be naive to believe that this problem only existed in one state. The Dignity for Disability Party has certainly joined the call for a royal commission into this subject. I will continue to do whatever I can in my jurisdiction as a state member of the parliament to ensure that we do get consistency nationwide because I think that is vital.
Senator MOORE: Yes, the national approach. I would love to have a long discussion about the sexual and reproductive issues, but we might have to leave that for another time.
Ms Vincent : So would I.
Senator MOORE: I know Family Planning Alliance Australia and Family Planning Queensland have done a lot of work in that, so we will put that there. I just wanted to make a note that it is critical and that we want to talk about it. I want to ask you a couple of questions about evidence we have received elsewhere to get your view on it.
Ms Vincent : Sure.
Senator MOORE: One of the areas that has come up consistently is the issue of guardianship and how it works. Also there are quite clear fears, particularly by parents who have given evidence, that the system could well manipulate guardianship to isolate people who are considered to be troublemakers. The evidence has been from people who feel as though, because they have been agitating strongly for the welfare of the person in care for whatever reason, somehow, the system is then being used to close them down. I wonder if you would care to comment on the issue of guardianship generally, because now we have various systems and rhetoric being put out about supported decision making and nominees, and there is a confusion about who is what. Also I would like your view on how the system operates to see whether guardianship is as transparent as we would hope it would be.
Ms Vincent : I suppose, based on the work that I have done with some constituents with guardianship issues, I can say that the process is quite complex. I am certainly aware of people who do feel that, when they are very vocal about their wishes or who want to protect and advocate for their loved one, they are labelled as troublemakers. It is probably inappropriate for me to comment on whether or not I believe that is correct, but it is certainly a feeling that is out there. In not wanting to repeat too much of what it sounds like you have already heard, I suppose a slightly different angle I could give you is that this is yet another example of why it is so important to have as many accessible avenues as possible for the person with disability to be in control of their own lives and to select their own advocates wherever they feel they need them, and also to direct their own lives. I think some positive work is happening around this area with projects on things like supported decision making where we are slowly starting to focus on capacity of people with disability rather than presumed incapacity. I know that the Office of the Public Advocate as well as some other organisations, for example, are doing some projects around supported decision making. They are trying to assist people to select an advocate and to learn as much as they can about: how do I choose where I live; who I live with; what I do for a job, and so on.
As with the point I made about sex and relationships, I think it is important, again, to recognise that not everybody will have prior knowledge. Many people, particularly people who have been living in more institutional residential settings, might not even be used to choosing what they have for breakfast. The greatest choice in their life might be whether they have coffee or tea in the morning. So you cannot suddenly sit down with this person say okay, where do you want to live, who do you want to live with and what you want to do with the rest of your life without giving them the tools to understand that (a) they do have a right to have a choice and (b) there are accessible mechanisms to assist them to make that choice. That might be a slightly different angle to what you have already heard but it may be useful. I do not know.
CHAIR: That is exactly why we are following it up. We are hearing both sides of the argument and it is not a straight forward issue.
Senator MOORE: The other area is the word advocacy and how advocacy operates, particularly with the introduction of the NDIS. I know South Australia has got the trial with young people. The need for independent advocacy has been an ongoing demand for a long time. It is really difficult to identify what is happening within the space around advocacy and funding and those kinds of things. From your perspective, it would be useful to have something, particularly when this inquiry is looking at people who have been damaged. They have been attacked and they have had criminal assault within that space about the role of advocacy.
Ms Vincent : I have quite significant concerns about the future for advocacy, particularly under the NDIS as you point out. From what we are hearing, there seems to be within the bureaucracy—if I could use that umbrella term—something of a belief that the National Disability Insurance Scheme appeals mechanism will eventually take care of all manner of disability rights related complaints when the NDIS was never meant to do things like make transport accessible, make the education accessible, improve access to footpaths and businesses and so on. So I think there is a somewhat naively narrow view about the type of advocacy that people require. I think that is something that does need urgent addressing, particularly because, as you say, when people have been wronged, their ability to advocate for themselves or at least on their own might be impacted and they might require supports particularly where there are emotional or mental impacts to take into account.
I suppose the short answer I can give you is I am concerned about the apparent over centralisation in this area and I think there will be significant need for ongoing grassroots level advocacy about those basic day-to-day things. I think also that it is very important to rectify the fact support services in the disability system historically have been so reactive rather than proactive. I would hate to see it continue to be a situation where we wait for people to start saying well, actually the NDIS is not going to help me with access to public transport, education, whatever it may be and then all of a sudden we say, 'Oh, of course we failed to give advocacy around that.' I think there will be significant need in order to properly meet the real needs of people with disability to have that ongoing grassroots level advocacy. It is a concern is the short answer I can give you.
CHAIR: One of the issues I want to touch on is there has been almost universal support for an independent national statutory watchdog—that is the general term that now seems to be being used—as the process for complaints, monitoring and whether they are the ones that would do some overarching pre-employment process. Some people think it is a good idea. The evidence is not quite so clear on whether there is universal support for that. The fact is that there is pretty strong support for a national watchdog. What is your opinion on such a process?
Ms Vincent : I think certainly we do need as many measures as possible. Can I just clarify we are talking about police screening for people?
CHAIR: Firstly, for complaints and for monitoring investigation of complaints. And then there is a call for an Australia-wide process for pre-employment checks and criteria and possibly a register. Again, it is not quite so clear about whether people want a national register—some people do; some people do not—and whether the same agency should be responsible for the pre-employment checks. There is an agreement there needs to be a national approach because people are talking about people moving from state to state and moving on to perpetrate in other states.
Ms Vincent : Perhaps to address your first point, Dignity for Disability has in the past introduced legislation to instate a mandatory reporting scheme on abuse and neglect of people with disabilities because it occurred to us that there is a gap. People with disabilities would technically be covered by mandatory reporting mechanisms for children and then again for the elderly but there are people in the middle who may experience the same vulnerabilities or susceptibilities but who are not covered.
Legislation has to date not been passed by the parliament. The government is not amenable to it because it believes that (a) it is better to have safeguarding mechanisms against abuse and (b) the existing child mandatory reporting scheme is overburdened and basically broken so it would be almost inefficient to implement another. My rebuttal to that would be we certainly never said that it was either mandatory reporting or safeguarding. I think it is obvious from my statement to you today that I believe in the need for information so people are aware of their rights. People need to be aware of their responsibilities in terms of a support role and so on.
My other point is that unfortunately no system is ever going to be perfect. There will people who will not get access to this information for whatever reason so we need as many avenues for people watching out for the signs of abuse and neglect to know where to take those. Drafting this legislation has been a difficult road in terms of wanting to protect the people who are particularly susceptible but also not wanting to overtake the autonomy of people who would be able to speak up for themselves if necessary. For example, I would not want a situation where I might have a bruise on my knee from bumping it somewhere and somebody calls up and makes a report because I have an obvious disability. I think there does need to be balance.
The other point I would make in rebuttal to the government's argument is, in terms of the child mandatory reporting mechanism already being broken and therefore it not be worth doing anything else, if I break a window in my house, I do not go through the house and break all the other windows so that they match; I fix the window. I think perhaps rather than saying the system is broken so we cannot do anything else, we could perhaps look at fixing the system.
I have also had quite significant conversations with the state public advocate, John Bailey. He seems quite confident that if the existing scheme was already overburdened that his office may have some capacity to take on that reporting mechanism. So my latest draft of the bill took into account that the reports would go to that office. Whether or not there is a future for this bill remains to be seen but I think there is at the very least the need for ongoing conversation about possible mechanisms whether it is mandatory reporting or something similar.
CHAIR: Thank you very much for your evidence today. It is very much appreciated. It has been particularly important to hear about the South Australian system.
Ms Vincent : If I can follow up on anything for you or if you think of anything else down the track, please feel free to be in touch.
CHAIR: On the flipside of that, if there was anything that came up today that you want to make some comment on, we would welcome that as well.
Ms Vincent : I will think about that.
Senator MOORE: On that point, Ms Vincent, yesterday we had evidence from someone who was a speech pathologist, who was raising issues around the South Australian proposal for intermediary support in that area. It would be interesting, if you do get the opportunity, to have a look at what she said about the South Australian system and her concerns about it. I think it is a professional concern as a speech pathologist. I raised the same point with the attorney's office and they are going to review that Hansard as well. Seeing as though you were so intimately involved development of legislation, you may find that interesting.
Ms Vincent : I will look into that with interest.
Committee adjourned at 17:11